Lana Ravandi-Fadai: "Trump's withdrawal from Iran deal creates gap between US and Europe"
The US unilateral withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal did not break the international agreement on Iran's nuclear program: the European participants in the deal - Germany, Britain and France - refused to follow Washington's example, pledging their commitment to the deal. The United States has already imposed new sanctions on Iran and its partner countries, including Russia, which spurred oil prices, but so far it has been the only effect of this US demarche against the international community. The senior research fellow of the Department of Near and Middle East at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Lana Ravandi-Fadai, told Vestnik Kavkaza about what the world should expect from the P5+1 group of negotiators and Iran in the near future.
- In your estimation, how will the US exit change the Iran nuclear deal execution?
- De facto, not much has changed, Trump's withdrawal from the deal has created a gap between Europe and the United States. Europe did not support his decision, which means that European companies that might want to continue cooperation with Iran could fall under the existing and new US sanctions. Iran is going back to its former unpleasant position, but this is not really dangerous for it. Let me remind you that there are people in Iran, both in power and among the population, who oppose the conclusion and implementation of the JCPOA - for the simple reason that the deal with the P5+1 has brought almost nothing new to their life. The US, fulfilling its obligations under the deal, suspended some of the sanctions, but it has not affected the Iranian economy.
As for the future, the most important thing now is that Trump's statements and actions do not provoke Iran to take ill-considered steps. So far, we see Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his team saying that Tehran will continue to implement the JCPOA, and if the deal is supported by the negotiators, the situation will not deteriorate, at least at the multilateral level, and all remaining countries will continue to observe its conditions. The almost war that is projected between the US and Iran since May 12 is most likely not a fact, but a part of Trump's favorite tactics - clamping the enemy, putting it in a desperate position to force him to agree on the voiced conditions. At the same time, which is typical of Trump, it is unclear what exactly he wants from Iran now.
Undoubtedly, the actions of the US president are linked to his entourage, the lobby from Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have his ear - according to Trump and a huge number of US experts, these are his main friends. He also opposes the program of ex-President Barack Obama, does not accept the improvement of relations with Iran under Obama. The influence of the lobby and his own desires are enough for him to start acting. The Americans are unique in this regard - they are able to blame and judge everyone without showing any evidence. There is no evidence that Iran is a terrorist state, just empty words, but they do not need it, like in the time when they did not need any reason for invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Just the work of propaganda, which dictates accusations and punishments - the exit from the deal and the return of sanctions.
- In your estimation, what kept London, Paris and Berlin from leaving the deal after Washington?
- In my opinion, they were deterred precisely by the absence of evidence that Iran violated the deal, as well as the unpredictability of the US, which make a deal and withdraw from it when they want to, as well as impose sanctions at any time they want. These can't possibly be legitimate actions for sensible people.
At the same time, it is difficult to predict whether the Europeans will continue to support the deal or withdraw from it at some point, solely because of Washington's unpredictability. But if the US consistently begins to increase the sanctions pressure on Iran and, most importantly, its European partners, everything would be possible. European companies may be afraid that they will suffer from continuing cooperation with companies under US sanctions, so everything will depend on the US reaction to Europe's contacts with Iran. For now, we can only say that the return of US sanctions will affect both economic and political relations of Tehran with the EU.
At the same time, sanctions may strengthen Iranian-European ties, for example, is European banks start working directly with Iran, because the euro is a fairly strong currency. But all European banks work with the dollar, and the Americans may tell them that they will stop cooperating with them due to their contacts with Iranian companies. Thus, Europe can be forced to abandon Iran. Italy or Spain still may show their character and continue to work with Tehran, but they have a relatively weak economy, and the EU's flagships - Germany and France - are subordinated to the US to some extent, living under American pressure. Perhaps now they will start thinking that one should not be so heavily dependent on a partner, whose behavior cannot be foreseen, but it is rather a utopia.
- Is it possible to predict now Iran's behavior regarding the nuclear deal in the coming months?
- When Trump came to power, there was a big reaction in Iran, people literally panicked, there were terrible social sentiments, but now the citizens have calmed down and were ready for such US antics. I hoped until the very last that Trump would not withdraw from the deal, but all the Iranians were already morally prepared for this development. Iran has been living under US sanctions for almost 40 years, and it will continue building its economy further, will seek new ways out of this situation. And in the near future, Iran will continue to adhere to the JCPOA.